The 2016 election is so important that it will no doubt determine the future of this country. The next president will appoint 2-3 Supreme Court Justices and tip the balance of the court one way or the other. The next Congress will consider whether it will continue down the road of profligate spending or return to a foundation of fiscal sanity.
Politicians at both the federal level and the state level will consider legislation that will either restrict abortion or allow it to continue and provide taxpayer funding. Much is at stake in this election.
Christians need to consider what part they will play in this election. We have a civic responsibility because we are both citizens of heaven and citizens of earth. Good citizenship involves being registered to vote and the going out and voting intelligently in each election. Have Christians been a good steward of the vote?
Recently on Point of View we interviewed various experts about how born again Christians have done in the area of voting. Let’s look at Christian voter participation in 2012. There were 90 million born again Christians of voting age. About 77 million of them were registered to vote. And 51 million of them voted in that election.
That means there were 39 million eligible Christian voters who did not vote or were not registered to vote in 2012. The 39 million break down this way: 13 million were not registered and 26 million were registered but did not go to the polls.
In the New Testament, Jesus says that believers are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). We have a stewardship responsibility when it comes to using our gifts, talents, and opportunities. Jesus also described the importance of this stewardship in His parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). He was critical of the one servant who buried his talent (Matthew 25:26). We as voters should not "bury our talent" but use the opportunity God has given us to vote responsibly.
From the 2012 statistics, we can see two problems. First, there were 13 million born again Christians who were not registered to vote. We need to get like-minded believers registered to vote. Second, there were an additional 26 million who were registered to vote who did not vote. We need to help them see the importance of voting and provide them with resources so they can cast an intelligent vote.
You might wonder why there are so many born again Christians who are not registered to vote. Former talk show host Jane Chastain did a survey to try to answer that question. She found that some people feared that if they were registered to vote they would be called for jury duty. It is not only a poor reason (since Christians should be willing to serve), but it is also flawed since most cities and counties don’t just use the voter rolls in calling people to jury duty.
The more important question is: What can we do about this problem of Christians who don’t even bother to register to vote? Some Christians absolutely refuse to vote in an election, and that should be their right. But I think many Christians perhaps just need some help or encouragement to vote.
One Christian group has used sophisticated computer programs to identify potential Christian voters who are currently not registered to vote. They also found that the voting margin between candidates was far lower than the number of unregistered voters. For example, the two main candidates in Missouri in 2008 had a margin of a mere 3,903 votes, while the number of unregistered Christian voters was 102,522. Another example would be North Carolina. There the margin was 14,177 votes in an area with 281,212 unregistered voters.
As a listener to Point of View, I know you and your family are probably registered to vote. But I encourage you to talk to other people in your sphere of influence who may not be registered to vote and encourage them to register. As you can see from these statistics, registering like-minded Christians can make a difference in an election.
Once a Christian is registered to vote, he or she needs to know more about the issues and the candidates. At pointofview.net, we have posted the “Pray, Organize, Vote” election resources. There are articles, videos, and a link to extensive voter guides from various groups. You can learn the votes of incumbents and see how candidates answered surveys and questionnaires.
One key issue is the abortion issue. Many pro-life leaders are saying that being pro-life can be a winning issue. Marjorie Dannenfelser has been on my radio program to explain her recent commentary on why the “pro-life movement is winning the culture—and elections.” Polling statistics and recent elections all point to the fact that being pro-life is a winning issue in most campaigns.
The most recent Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans (55%) oppose abortion in all or most circumstances. A CNN poll back in 2014 put that number even higher at 58 percent. These millions of pro-life voters should vote for pro-life candidates.
The problem has been that many candidates say they are pro-life but fail to support pro-life legislation when the pressure is on. Some politicians who are Catholic may say they accept the doctrine of the church but then go on to say they also believe in a woman’s right to choose.
We should ask if the candidate believes that an unborn child “is a person from the moment of fertilization, and thus, entitled to have his or her life protected by the Constitution.” And we should ask the candidate what he or she plans to do to provide legal protection for these children. These are pointed questions we should ask as we look at their voting record or how they answered a candidate survey.
The 2016 election is crucial. That is why we need to register other born again Christians to vote. We also need to educate all of us about the issues and candidates.